WorkSafeBC Ammonia Inspection Initiative Now in Second Phase

Phase one focused on ice rinks and recreational facilities. Of the 223 sites inspected, 181 were using ammonia refrigeration systems. Inspecting officers issued 1,134 orders, three compliance agreements were created, and one stop use order was issued.

WorkSafeBC reported this week that its ammonia inspection initiative is now in its second phase, which focuses on contractors conducting installations, maintenance, and other activities on ammonia systems. During the first phase between Nov. 20 and Dec. 31, 2017, WorkSafeBC officers inspected ice rinks and recreational facilities that use ammonia as a refrigerant. The focus of their inspections was risk assessment, exposure control plans, and work procedures, as well as emergency response and evacuation plans for ammonia exposure.

Ammonia is a toxic chemical most commonly found in refrigerants, cleaning products, and fertilizers. It can be a liquid or a gas and is most dangerous as a gas; exposure to a high concentration of ammonia can be fatal.

Of the 223 sites inspected, 181 were using ammonia refrigeration systems. Inspecting officers issued 1,134 orders, three compliance agreements were created, and one stop use order was issued. The three most commonly cited orders were:

  • OHSR 6.128(3)(a) – Monitoring and alarm systems tested at least monthly
  • OHSR 6.129(2) – Pressure relief alarm systems
  • OHSR 6.119 – Exposure Control Plan

Phase three will include workplaces other than recreational facilities and ice rinks that may be storing large quantities of ammonia on site. This phase will take place later this year.

More information and resources are available on the agency's ammonia page, which explains the risks, how workers usually are exposed, and how to reduce the risk through elimination or substitution, controls, and PPE.

WorkSafeBC oversees a no-fault insurance system for workplaces in British Columbia, Canada. It partners with employers and workers to promote the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses, rehabilitate injured workers and provide timely return to work, and provide fair compensation to replace workers' loss of wages while recovering from injuries.

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